By Heather O.
When my husband was in law school, we had a great group of friends. There were 4 of us, 4 couples who all had one thing in common—the husband was pulling long hours in a demanding field of study. All of the wives faced many evenings alone as our husbands toiled in the libraries. But none of the husbands were studying the same thing. They were all pretty different.
The wives were pretty different too. 3 of us were mothers with newish babies, and 1 was a professional with a full time job. And between the four of us, we ranged pretty far on the political spectrum, from conservative republican to very liberal.
We had lots and lots of discussions.
We didn’t always agree. In fact, there were times when I would leave our discussions and say to my husband, “How can anybody ACTUALLY believe that??” I’m sure my friends were saying the same thing about us.
When I had my first miscarriage, these were the women I called to cry with. These were the women who comforted me. Over the years, it’s unfortunately been harder and harder to get together, as our husbands are all professors now, and we’ve scattered a little bit around the country. The few times we’ve managed to get together since we all graduated, it has been so great and I always think, “Why don’t we do this more often?” We may not talk very much anymore, but I still consider these women among the greatest people I know.
One of these women, my dear friend, recently changed her facebook profile picture to say Ordain Women.org. I have other women in my facebook feed who talked about being there, at the Tabernacle, being turned away, women that I have known, maybe not as well as my friend, but who have crossed my path along the way. Their stories don’t make me angry, or sad, or defensive about my place in this gospel. They are just their stories, their pain, their paths that they feel they have to take.
I disagree with them, but that’s nothing new. I figured out a long time ago that you can disagree with one of your best friends, and she’ll still make you pancakes for Sunday brunch.
I will tell you what *does* make me angry, and sad, and defensive. It’s the backlash from other women towards my friends. Really, it’s not coming from the men. I don’t think most men care about women attending priesthood. In fact, I think most of them are thinking “Really, you want to see 2 MORE hours of conference? Knock yourselves out.” But the anger from other women—wow.
I don’t get it.
I get feeling marginalized in this church, though. It hasn’t happened very often in my life, but I have been dismissed by priesthood holders at times and in situations that have nothing to do with the priesthood. I’ve felt the inequality of being part of a community where almost every single decision a woman makes is subject to a man’s approval, regardless of the leadership position she may be in, and I’ve watched an almost 12 year old girl excitedly talk about the sacrament and then deflate when she realized she would never get to pass or bless it. And I’ve felt the awe of watching my husband exercise his priesthood to bless others, and wish that I, too, could pull down the powers of heaven.
But I’m not a protestor by nature, and despite my sometimes outspokenness, I am, at heart, a rule follower. So I follow the rules, and trust that if they are going to be changed, they will be in God’s own time.
So why the vitriol from other women?
These are my thoughts:
Sometimes I wonder if more conservative women feel threatened, or judged, because they have found peace in the gospel and feel like the implication is that if they have found peace, it’s because they are too stupid to see what is happening around them.
Nobody is saying that. Or if they are, they should be flicked on the nose. Faithful women who try their best to follow the prophets and teachings of the church are not stupid, ignorant sheep. At least not the ones I know.
Sometimes I wonder if more conservative women feel like they have to take a stand against unrighteousness, that they have to loudly proclaim what the Lord teaches because they are the Lord’s servants and they’ve covenanted to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things and in all places.
That’s cool. But your fellow sisters of the gospel are not Satan’s minions. Seriously. And if you truly believe this is the Lord’s work, and that it can’t be stopped in these latter days, then you should have enough faith that the church can handle some women banging on the gates of heaven (and the Tabernacle). Really. Heaven’s gates are probably made of something super shiny and awesomely strong.
Sometimes I wonder if more conservative women are afraid to entertain thoughts about being ordained, because it feels so…scary. Not that having the priesthood would be scary (although being a Bishop would definitely be terrifying), but because it feels like it’s something you shouldn’t even ask for, like taking the car out before you’re 16, or sneaking into a bar before you’re 21 (I only did that once, and it was only because I wanted to karaoke.). It’s been decreed that it’s not for us, so asking for it feels like we are asking for something forbidden, or, worse, that we are saying that we think God might be wrong in the way He designed His church. And faithful women don’t question God.
This describes where I feel most of the time—like, are we even allowed to ask? It seems kind of silly, once it’s written out like that, because God wants us to ask Him anything and everything! But that’s where I am. I feel like we’re not really allowed to ask.
The women of OW disagree. They think we are allowed to ask. And that’s pretty much all they are doing. They’re asking.
So if you disagree with OW, hey, that’s cool. But don’t get angry with them because they experience a different relationship with God than you do, and because they feel something that you don’t feel, and are asking for something that you don’t feel comfortable asking for, or may not even want at all. We aren’t all the same, and we don’t have to think alike.
I’ve chosen to stay in this church and trust in God and in His plan for His daughters, with faith that He has as much love and respect for me as my own earthly father does. My family isn’t perfect, and as siblings we all have different relationships with our parents, but I have never once, not for a second, questioned my father’s love for me, or thought he loved my brothers more. I doubt God’s love even less. And so I do what is asked of me in the church, I perform my duties, go to my meetings, read my scriptures and say my prayers, and I don’t feel the need to attend priesthood session, or “agitate” to be ordained a priest.
But my friends, the ones who do feel this need, who do doubt God’s love and their place in this church? While I disagree with them, they will always, always be welcome at my house for pancakes for Sunday brunch.
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